Worthwhile Places to Wine & Dine in Vegas’s Tourist Areas

Foodies and wine lovers, this Miami wine blogger recently ate and sipped her way through Las Vegas (the scale confirmed it). If you are anything like me, you appreciate good eateries and places to wine down in tourist areas, which is why I compiled this list of Las Vegas restaurants and places to drink wine for you. I even included two wineries an hour away from the Vegas strip.

Restaurants and Places to Drink Wine

Tap at MGM Grand3799 S Las Vegas Blvd.

This sports bar doesn’t just serve beers on tap. They are tapping into the "wine on tap" trend (cheers to them). If you don’t know what wine on tap is, I’ve included a brief wine-11 below. The wine on tap list includes:

  1. Pinot Grigio, Coppola, California
  2. Chardonnay, 14 Hands, Washington
  3. Pinot Noir, Martin Ray Angeline Reserve, California
  4. Cabernet Sauvignon, Simi, Sonoma

They'll even let you try them first. If wine on tap is not your thing, Tap offers five wines by the bottle: a Sparkling, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec and Merlot. With 60 HD flat screen TVs that kept my hubby entertained while I sipped my way through the wine list, Tap doesn’t have your average American Cuisine bar menu. Get the Chicken Nachos…you can thank me later!  

Wine on Tap: a distribution method for wine. Instead of distributing wine via the bottle, wine is housed in stainless steel kegs and pushed through the keg by a pump. Supporters of this method say it's more cost-effective, more sustainable, and quality is maintained longer.

Herbs & Rye3713 W Sahara Ave.

If you really want to escape the Las Vegas scene, head over to Herbs & Rye. Serving up American and Italian fare and creative handcrafted cocktails in a retro dim setting, Herbs & Rye also has a great wine list for wine lovers. The menu includes steaks, Italian dishes and flatbread.

Maybe it was the restaurant ambiance that lured me to the cocktail menu. I had the French 75: Champagne, Orange Curacao, Gin, and Lemon. When in doubt, Champagne pairs well with just about anything. For starters, our group had the Meatballs & Chorizo and Calamari. I’m not really a steak eater, so the hubby and I shared the Tomato Caprese and Yardbird & Risotto. Everything was amazing, including the music.

Border Grill at The Forum Shops at Caesars3500 S Las Vegas Blvd.

I just love Mexican food! After window-shopping at The Forum Shops, a fellow foodie and I decided to grab lunch at Border Grill (their Happy Hour menu enticed us). Take advantage of their Happy Hour menu Tuesday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Enjoy $4 Bebidas (drinks), $3 Tacos, $5 Quesadillas and $7 Antojitos (little cravings).

For starters, we shared the Queso Fundido con Chorizo from the regular menu (it was cheesy good). We each had the $5 Citrus Grilled Chicken Quesadillas from the Happy Hour menu (delicious). And since I was recuperating from Latin Grammys the night before, I skipped the vinito for this meal. Not to worry though, Border Grill has Sparkling, White and Red wine on the menu.

Want to know how to pair Mexican food with wine? Check out my post here.

La Cave Wine & Food Hideaway at The Wynn: 3131 S Las vegas blvd. 

Tucked inside The Wynn, La Cave offers over 50 wines by the glass and 400 wines by the bottle (yes, you heard that right). They don’t call it a "Wine & Food Hideaway" for nothing. With a different atmosphere in the cellar, the front bar area, the dining room, and their patio that overlooks the landscaped Wynn resort pool and gardens, La Cave is the perfect spot to wine down.

The hubby and I sat in the patio for a romantic evening that included an array of small-plates, craft beer for the hubby, and the Somm’s Selection wine flight for me:

Wine flight at la cave food & wine hideaway 

  1. Chenin Blanc, Storm, Santa Ynez Valley, CA
  2. Malagousia, Domaine Gerovassiliou, Epanomi, Greece 
  3. Grenache Blend, Chapoutier, Chateauneuf Du Pape, France
  4. Nebbiolo, Damilano, Lecinquevigne, Barolo, Piedmont, Italy

Their small-plate menu includes selections from the sea, farm, oven, garden, grill and butcher. From the sea, the hubby and I shared the Thai Snapper Ceviche and Hamachi Crudo.  From the farm, the Bacon and Egg Fettuccine, and from the oven, the Chorizo and Andouille Flatbread. Everything was delicious!

Special thanks to our waitress Amber and Director of Wine, Mark Hefter for answering all my food and wine questions. I really recommend this wine retreat!

The Wineries

Before heading back home, the hubby and I decided to rent a car and check out two wineries an hour away. I’m glad we did.

Pahrump Valley Winery3810 Winery Rd., Pahrump, NV

Nevada’s most awarded winery, Pahrump Valley Winery features wines produced from grapes grown in Nevada and California. The complimentary wine tour starts on the property grounds and vineyards before heading to the wine production area. Once the tour is done, guests are escorted to the tasting room to taste seven wines from the tasting list. I recommend trying the Nevada wines, especially the Mourvedre, Nevada Ridge 2014 vintage. Similar to a Pinot Noir, this Nevada wine is dry with notes of strawberry and toast.

Special thanks to Jaye, our tour and tasting guide.

Sanders Family Winery3780 E kellogg RD., PAHRUMP, NV

Had we not arrived at nightfall, we could have enjoyed the winery grounds and views. The main entrance to Sanders Family Winery is lined with tall Italian Cypress trees and bordered by two full production vineyards. The architecture is of the renaissance period with panoramic mountain views as the backdrop.

With its warm hospitality, Sanders Family Winery offers complimentary wine tastings 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The tasting includes seven different wines: three whites, three reds, and the Ruby Port dessert wine (all pictured below).

Since we missed the winery tour, the hubby and I went straight into the tasting and had the pleasure of meeting Jack Sanders who graciously gifted us a bottle of the Ruby Port. Excited to share a sweet recipe he shared with us on another post. 

Thank you for visiting this post. Let me know if you make it to any of these Vegas spots; would love to hear from you! 

Cheers, Nat 

Where to Wine & Dine In Chicago

Most recognized as the “Windy City”, Chicago has been home to my younger brother since 2010. Now, on my sixth visit, I really don’t consider myself a tourist. I did most of the touristy things during my first few visits: Navy Pier, John Hancock Center, Big Red Double Decker Bus, Wrigley Field, Soldier Field, Shedd Aquarium, to name a few. I’ve even become an expert packer for the unpredictable weather.

So this November, I headed to the windy city with my hubby. He had to attend a conference for work, and I jumped at the opportunity to join him. Going to Chicago meant seeing my brother and 5-month-old niece, while also visiting some cool spots to share with you.

We stayed at the historic and centrally located Hilton Chicago on South Michigan Avenue. According to Wikipedia, it’s the third-largest hotel in Chicago by number of guest rooms and largest total meeting and event space of any Chicago hotel. I believe them! Catching the elevator sometimes took over 10 minutes, and I had to wade through a crowd every time I went to the lobby.

So enough about the hotel accommodations, let’s move on to my wine and dine highlights.

Eleven City Diner

If you are ever in Chicago, you need to eat at Eleven City Diner. With its Jewish deli standards, classic American fare, and friendly staff, this local diner is a must try for foodies. We were seated near the kitchen, giving me a full view to all the yummy dishes. I ordered the open-faced tuna melt and it was seriously the best tuna melt I’ve ever had (YOLO).

Eleven City Diner

Eleven City Diner

ELEVEN CITY DINER: Tuna melt

ELEVEN CITY DINER: Tuna melt

Pequod's Pizza

You can’t go to Chicago without getting a pizza fix. A friend of a friend recommended the award-winning, brick-walled pizza pub, Pequod's Pizza. This casual eatery is popular for its deep-dish pies with caramelized crust. While 100 times better than Giordano’s, I just prefer thin crust pizza. If you are a fan of deep-dish pizza, I recommend this cool spot. And yes, I had wine with dinner (not pictured).

Pequod's Pizza

Pequod's Pizza

Niu B

If you are in the mood for sushi, check out Niu B. Instead of wine, I had the Genmai Green Tea. Still can’t get over how cute the pot and cups were. I ordered the miso soup to start and also tried the Wild Mushroom Hot & Sour Soup, which was spicy-mazing. Our table ordered a few rolls to share. All were yum yum, but my favorite was the Mellow Yellow: fresh salmon, tempura crunch, avocado, spicy mayo, sliced mango, ginger sauce. We tried the fried rice, but it was nothing to write home about. For dessert, our table ordered three to share. My favorite was the Green Tea Creme Brulee (OMG!).

Niu B: Genmai Green Tea

Niu B: Genmai Green Tea

NIU B: Green Tea Creme Brulee

NIU B: Green Tea Creme Brulee

Whole Foods: Red Star Bar

Hope you are sitting down for this one. Did you know that some of the Whole Foods in Chicago have bars? I know. I was jelly too! I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I probably wouldn’t get any shopping done (LOL).  The Red Star Bar concept showcases local beer and spirits. Here, I thought I was going to grab a tea. Instead, I sat at the bar and enjoyed a glass of Bogle Cabernet Sauvignon

The Red Star Bar

The Red Star Bar

City Winery Chicago

If you love wine, City Winery Chicago is a great spot. This impressive establishment is not only large in size, it’s also a music venue and favorite among local foodies and wine enthusiasts (and now me). It was a bit quiet during my visit, but then again, it was a Thursday afternoon (winos are at work). It really didn’t matter though, because Brendon, my server, was able to answer my every question. He was awesome!

City Winery chicago 

City Winery chicago 

For food, I got my cheese fix with the New World Cheese Tour. It came with three different cheddar cheeses, two spreads and crackers. The mustard seed cheddar and quince spread were my favorite. Two flatbreads later: the flatbread of the day, which had cherry tomatoes, bacon, pesto, provolone and asiago cheese (my mouth is salivating right now) and the Wild Mushroom flatbread, which had sautéed wild mushrooms, crispy sage and goat cheese béchamel. Both were yummy, but the flatbread of the day was my favorite.

CITY WINERY CHICAGO: New World Cheese Tour

CITY WINERY CHICAGO: New World Cheese Tour

CITY WINERY CHICAGO: flatbread of the day

CITY WINERY CHICAGO: flatbread of the day

I tried the wine on tap. If you don’t know what wine on tap is, it’s the distribution method. Wine on tap is housed in stainless steel kegs, which is known to maintain the quality of the wine better.  I ordered a glass of “Big Shoulders” 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from North Coast, California. Brandon brought me three other wines on tap to sample: Windsor Oak Vineyard 2013 Petite Sirah from Dry Creek, Sonoma, California; 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon from Bousquet Vineyard, Argentina and the 2013 Randolph Reserve from Mendocino, California.

I enjoyed them all, but must rave about the City Winery Randolph Reserve 2013, a Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 40%, Cabernet Franc 45%, and Merlot 15%. On the nose, blackberry jam, cedar resin, and floral aromas with a hint of toasted rye bread. On the palate, sour cherry, choke cherry and dark plum fruits. Special thanks to City Winery Wine Education Director, Rachel Lea Driver Speckan for taking the time to give me the 411 on this wine. She even gave me the best news! The wine will soon be bottled and available for purchase online in 2016 (someone please send me a reminder).

At City Winery, wines on tap are offered by the glass, in a carafe, or in a growler to go. Bottled wines are also available. I really hope to visit this spot again, and since I’m slowly learning more about wines, I hope to be able to do a tasting with the wine experts followed by some live music.  

The last few days of my trip consisted of family time (obsessed with my niece, a.k.a. cheeks), eating and wine. These are really a few of my favorite things. I even got invited to a “Spooning with Friends” gathering. Now I know what you’re probably thinking, but it’s not that kind of spooning (LOL), it’s a name given to a stew potluck. My brother’s neighbor invited us, and I admit that I enjoyed every stew I tasted. I even had peanut butter ramen noodles. Hello, why didn’t anyone think of this sooner? The weather was perfect for stew. I only eat soup in Miami when I’m sick.  It’s too warm for stews and soups.

Greek food from Athenian Room

One night my brother brought home Greek food from Athenian Room on 807 W Webster Ave. They don’t have a website, but OMG, their gyro platter was as authentic as it gets. And if you need some more convincing, Tina Fey is a fan. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures. Sorry, it was just too good to stop and take a picture, because upon first bite, I was transported to Latin Quarters in Paris. Yup, still remember the gyros I had during that trip. 

Special thanks to my brother and his girlfriend for hosting the hubby and I (and filling our bellies). And for something touristy, here’s a picture of me at Cloud Gate “The Bean”, where you’ll find tourists going picture happy.

Some undisclosed pounds later, I must admit that I had my share of food and wine during this visit, but there are still so many other eateries I want to try. I really love this city. Yes, it could be because Chicago is famous for its food, but truthfully a big part of my heart lives there. To my brother and niece, this is post is for you. Love you both.

My brother and niece 

My brother and niece 

Cheers to Chicago! 

Special thanks to Nicky Valdes,  my unofficial proofreader.